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Wednesday – Sixteenth week – OT1
Readings: Ex 16:1-5; 9-15; Mt 13:1-9.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 16:1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 9 And Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, `Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your murmurings.'” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; say to them, `At twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'” 13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning dew lay round about the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”
2/ Gospel (Mt 13:1-9): RSV Matthew 13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears let him hear.”
I. THEME: Hear God’s Word and put them into practice.
Good results are reserved only for those who listen and do exactly according to the instruction. If people don’t listen, they shall not know what they are going to do; how could they achieve the desired result? If people carefully listen, but don’t act according to what they heard or missing one step; they shall not have the desired result.
Today readings want to highlight the importance of both listening and doing God’s word. In the first reading, though the Israelites recognized God’s love and power through their crossing of the Red Sea, they were still murmuring against Moses and Aaron when they were lacking of bread, water and meat in the desert. They want to die at the fleshpot in the slavish land of the Egypt more than to have freedom but nothing to eat. They forgot that their powerful God, who sunk the Egyptian’s mighty armies in the Red Sea, also has power to feed them in the desert. The only thing they need to do is asking, not murmuring against Him and His leaders. In the Gospel, Jesus told a parable to emphasize the importance of preparing one’s soul to listen and to put God’s word into practice. He cited the four lands which God’s word is sowed into them; only the good land can bear fruits.
1/ Reading I: God gave the Israelites bread and meat in the desert.
1.1/ The Israelites complained against God and Moses: In desert, the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.The Israelites said to them, “Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”
Some people said that the Israelites have a reason to complain because if they must die of famine in the desert, it is better to stay in Egypt to die by the fleshpots! But this shouldn’t be the case because if God, out of love, had a plan to save the Israelites from their slavery to the Egyptians to enter the Promise Land, how could He let them die of famine in the desert! These complains indicated that:
(1) The Israelites didn’t completely trust in God: They had just witnessed the Exodus in which God let them safely pass the Red Sea while the Pharaoh’s armies were sunken in it, in addition to seven catastrophes which God punished the Egyptians. Why shouldn’t they pray to God to ask for food instead of complaining with these unkind words?
(2) The Israelites valued food more than spiritual values: Slavery to Pharaoh is a terrible suffering as they experienced and called out to God. Why should they already have freedom, wanted to go back to their former slavery again in order to have bread to eat and to sit near the fleshpots? This must be an important lesson for us that the desire to have food can overcome spiritual values.
1.2/ God gave people to eat manna and quails in the desert.
(1) He gave people manna: The Lord said to Moses: “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.” What God said is happened. In the morning the dew lay all about the camp,and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” The important point which God instructed them in this passage is that they can only have their daily portion; manna can’t be stored up except on the sixth day, to reserve for the Sabbath.
(2) He gave people quails: The Israelites not only want to eat bread but also to have good food. They said that we were tired of this tasteless food (manna) and they remembered good food when they were in Egypt. God knew what they had thought, so He again said to Moses: “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.”What God said is happened: “In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.”
2/ Gospel: The importance of God’s word through the Parable of a Sower
2.1/ Jesus’ preaching in parables: Today passage begins the third part of Jesus’ five sermons which St. Matthew structured his Gospel like the Pentateuch of the Old Testament. This part is also called “Jesus’ preaching in parables.”
The region of Galilee, especially Jezreel, Bashan and Gilead, is very proper for growing wheat because the land is fertile. The people who live in this area are either fishermen or farmers. They are very familiar with sowing so they could literally understand what Jesus wants to convey.
2.2/ Jesus’ intention: Through this parable, Jesus wants to stress on the potency of God’s word and human soul where the seed of God’s word is sowed into.
When the sower goes out to sow, he knows not all the seeds have the opportunity to develop to their maximum potency; but only the seeds that are falling into the well prepared land, fertile and having water. The seeds falling on the sidewalk have no opportunity to grow because birds of heaven shall eat them up. The seeds falling on the stony ground also have no opportunity to bear fruit, even they can grow a little; but they can’t endure scorching heat from the sun because their root aren’t deep. The ones falling on thorny bush also can’t bear fruit because the thorns suffocate them. The seeds falling on the fertile land also give different results; some seeds can give one hundred, others sixty or thirty.
Similarly for the seed of God’s word. Jesus or the prophets are the sowers who preach God’s word to all people. Though God’s word has unlimited power such as: to guide the lost, to correct the wrong, to purify people’s sins, to help people to live a virtuous life and to help them to be perfect; but God’s word can’t achieve these effects in those who are stubborn, the ignorant, the indifferent and those who are slaves for worldly allurements to the point that they have no time for studying God’s word.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God’s word is the truth that guides us on the right path. We must have time to listen, to meditate and to put it into practice.
– In order for God’s word to be effective, we must prepare our soul to be a good land for the seed of God’s word to fall in. A careless or indifferent attitude shall not help God’s word to bear good fruit for our life.